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'I'm an 11-0 heavyweight with five belts': Johnny Walker's brother Valter admits he's under pressure to perform in UFC debut

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Johnny Walker's younger brother Valter Walker makes his UFC debut on Saturday when he puts his undefeated record on the line against Lukasz Brzeski at UFC Vegas 90, and already being in the spotlight thanks to his brother's success has him tingling Belly.

“I’m an 11-0 heavyweight with five belts and people are already expecting a great fight,” Valter said on the MMA Fighting podcast Trocação Franca. “I am [nervous] that I won't deliver what the fans expect. My brother is a knockout artist and my game is nothing like his. I have more knockouts on the ground. I tear people down and knock them down. We have different styles. People might expect me to fight like my brother, but I’m not my brother, I’m completely different.”

Valter expects Johnny to be in his corner for Saturday's promotional debut and then plans to help his brother prepare for Johnny's light heavyweight showdown against Volkan Oezdemir at UFC Saudi Arabia on June 22.

Valter admitted that he has felt “surreal expectations” from fans since his MMA debut because his brother was already in the UFC at that point and he just wants to deliver exciting fights.

“I started training because of my brother, I started MMA because of my brother,” the 26-year-old heavyweight said. “I always looked up to him like a superhero. I was a child and he was already a teenager. He was a strong teenager, very fast, and I wanted to be like my brother.”

Valter was studying law in Brazil when Johnny moved to England to train for his fight with the UFC in 2018 Contender Series. Valter flew in to help Johnny prepare, but then stayed on as a sparring partner and then followed the UFC fighter to Thailand.

“I was afraid to train seriously, too afraid of getting hit in the face,” Walker said. “I didn’t like it, but my brother beat me up so much.

“I cried during our first sparring session together. He kicked me in the face and I started crying. I left the ring, ran to the bathroom and started crying. He went there and told me he “just touched my face” and told me to get it together. I was only 18. It was the third round of our sparring and we did five more rounds. I cried but still tried to defend myself. He told me he thought I had what it took to be a fighter because I cried but still tried to fight him back.”

Valter said he competed in Muay Thai competitions before taking part in some “illegal fights on the sand with no rules” in Thailand. He lost his first attempt by TKO – breaking his nose in the process – but then won his next four times. An injured shoulder then forced Valter to give up and consider leaving martial arts and studying law, where he planned to study in Brazil to become a police officer. However, his brother convinced him to undergo surgery first.

Russian coach Gor, the head of GOR MMA and Valter's main coach since, saw the championship potential in him and offered to help him undergo shoulder surgery. Valter eventually married in Russia and became a father there. Since then, he has collected MMA titles around the world. The UFC offer came after Walker captured the Titan FC heavyweight title in his last appearance after knocking out Alex Nicholson in the fourth round.

“I don’t make plans because every time I made plans it didn’t turn out the way I expected,” Walker said of what to expect from his UFC debut. “After my ninth fight I said I was done planning. There was a fight that my trainer said would be easy and I managed three rounds, super hard. “Easy fight?” And then, in what we expected would be difficult, I finished in the first round. I don't like making plans.

“People say, 'That's Johnny's brother, 11-0, and the other one has four losses.' He has bills to pay, just like me. He's there to kill me and I'm there to kill him. People say it will be easy, that I will knock him out. I don't like to underestimate anyone because if the cage closes and a punch lands on the chin, you're out. The 11-0 guy can be on the ground and the guy on the blade is now the champion. Of course I'm going there to win and put up a good fight. I want to deliver what people expect. But we never know what will happen. I'm ready for anything. I’m ready to hit and be hit.”